David Blackburn

Labour’s blindness to a broad agenda will condemn them to failure even after Brown

Labour’s blindness to a broad agenda will condemn them to failure even after Brown
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John Kampfner launches a scathing attack on New Labour in today’s Guardian. He characterises New Labour as a movement obsessed with micro-politics that ignores broad political context, leaving a legacy of missed opportunities of which the government are oblivious. He sees Harman’s and Mandelson’s leadership posturing in the same light:

‘Harman has set out her stall as a radical, but her record is unconvincing. Where was she all these years? I don't remember her previously railing against Blairite subservience towards the wealthy. Indeed, when I last interviewed her, during Labour's deputy leadership contest in 2007, she struck me as quite comfortable with the status quo. So one must work from the assumption that this is positioning, a calculation that the electoral college of a Labour party emaciated after a general election defeat would warm to this tune.

‘Mandelson's improbable emergence as a leadership candidate, promoted by journalists who remain transfixed by his apparent charms, suggests that the Labour hierarchy puts its current woes down purely to Brown's inability to communicate with voters. I believe Mandelson is sincere in arguing that the last decade has been largely a success. The same goes for other potential candidates such as Alan Johnson and David Miliband. As long as they think in this way, Labour will not reconnect with voters.’ That Harman’s and Mandelson’s posturing is the expression of Labour’s latest fixation - Gordon Brown’s leadership and the party’s reluctance to wield the knife when they had the chance - is clear. The long-term problem for Labour is that none of the other putative candidates provide viable, broad policy directions - despite what Harriet Harman thinks, a country doesn’t run by equality alone.